(Q&A published recently in QUORA)
Q. ‘Why wasn’t my consciousness generated by another brain? Why am I linked with this brain?’
I heard that everybody experiences consciousness, but then why am I my consciousness and not another person’s consciousness? It’s hard to explain.
Paul Bush. Yes, it’s hard to explain. Basically it’s because the most important part of consciousness, which is awareness*, is the same for everybody. There is only one awareness, and in fact nothing else. All the other aspects of consciousness, the contents, are projections of awareness as it identifies with small parts of reality such as bodies and minds. Such misidentification creates a perspective. From each perspective the part of reality not identified with is seen as the external world. The observer with a particular perspective and the world observed as a consequence of that perspective are both inferences created at the moment of identification.
So, there is only one awareness that is continually pulled into the illusion of being this or that observer. The ongoing personal identity that we think of as ourselves maintains coherence through the construction of the concepts of time and space; memory and an apparent (though not total) physical separation from the rest of reality. Awareness has no personal identity, it is exactly the same for you and everyone else, because it is singular awareness that creates each experience depending on the perspective of the entity that it is identifying with.
*(AM Awareness and Consciousness are generally taken as equivalent in Advaita Vedanta – no distinction being made)
HC It’s kind of hard to imagine that out of all the infinite possible “selfs” there could have been, I was one of them.
And the reason I’m not experiencing two lives at once is because all phenomenon is unique. But the question of “how is my ‘self’ tied to physical matter?” Just can’t be completely answered. It’s just the way it is. This is why I believe that we are somewhat metaphysical or kind of spiritual. Do you believe in any kind of metaphysical link?
PS Many atheists, such as I, have a belief of a metaphysical link.
PB I guess I didn’t explain it clearly enough. I figured that might happen, cos it’s difficult to understand: There are not infinite selves, there is only one, the same for everyone. The details of what is experienced is determined by the perspective of the experiencer. This appears to be constant (at least for one lifetime) because of the continuity of memory. That’s why you don’t experience two lives at once, because the dynamics of each moment of experience entail the recall of previous moments – while awareness is identified with any one perspective the continuous function of memory gives continuity to the experience of that perspective. When awareness identifies with a different perspective there is a different set of memories giving the appearance of a different entity. You think you are the experiences, which are always different, but actually you are the awareness, which is always the same.
Your self isn’t tied to physical matter. Matter is a projection of awareness, determined by the perspective identified with. All the dependencies and connections that we are unconscious of appear as matter. Once we fully understand something, all it’s origins and consequences, we see that nothing is separate from anything else, “things”, matter, don’t exist, it’s just ignorance.
PB (to PS) I’m not sure what you mean by “metaphysical link”. For sure the physical is just a term we use for shared experience, a common lack of understanding of how everything fits together, a consequence of our misidentification with individual bodies and minds.
AM Awareness is meta-physical, the sole reality or Oneness, or ‘Self’, which is indefinable and unsublatable. Everything else – phenomena or appearances – are sublatable.